If you are already zoned for a decent school, think twice about applying for the lottery. The grass is not always greener! I thought the negative reviews were just disgruntled parents whose children were troublemakers, or the parents themselves were just the complaining type. As a military family with several kids, I have experienced many different schools in many different places. I always enjoyed volunteering and being involved, as room parent or planning class parties, stuffing communicators or copying/cutting, etc. I thought Porter would be wonderful because it was always so difficult to get volunteers for various events. Here is a school that requires it! The problem is there is no hands on volunteering. No room parents. No class parties to plan. Field trips are done by lottery because everyone needs their volunteer hours, you're lucky to get picked once, maybe twice a year if you have multiple students. Volunteering consists of sitting at the front doors for hours to let people into the school, or helping at either "day of the arts" or field day once a year. You get half an hour credit for attending PTA meetings. In the years we were at Porter I never once entered a classroom unless it was for meet the teacher day or a conference. My youngest went from loving school and reading 4 grade levels higher than her current grade, to 3 years later being "on grade level". How does that even happen? We transferred back to our base school and my kid has never been happier. Porter's SOL scores are high because the kids are learning math a year ahead of the rest of the state. My child struggled with this and was a C student at Porter, which really affected self-confidence - but now is thriving again in extended classes at the base school. The only way I would recommend applying is if your base school is ranked quite low.
In three years my child had a variety of teaching styles. Teacher 1 was nice and the kids liked her but she was completely ineffective. My child learned nothing in her class. Teacher 2 was a first year teacher who had zero patience for kids. We heard every day about her screaming tirades. She would sit in class and play on her laptop, one day my kid came home and said she watched Game of Thrones all that day. That teacher "didn't believe in homework" but I suspect she just didn't believe in having to assign or grade it. My child dreaded going to school all that year. Teacher 3 was very good, the kids liked and respected her and for the first time at Porter I felt my kid was learning something. Unfortunately for current students, that teacher left after last year (as do all the good ones).
My kids rarely had homework, and when they did it was just "busy work", silly worksheets that had nothing to do with what they were currently studying. This does nothing to help parents know where their kids may need extra assistance at home. Test time is not the time to find out they were struggling with a concept.
My youngest child dealt with having items repeatedly stolen, and with repeated bullying by the same small group year after year. Those students are still at Porter, even after numerous referrals to the principal. They care nothing about students' well being, only test scores and attendance to ensure repeated "School of Excellence" awards.
I agree with most of the posts so far. Don't personally like the principal, but haven't had to deal with her. It's a great environment for children to be in from 1st to 8th grade. The school becomes like an extended family. I am very bothered by the loss of so many very good teachers. I was looking forward to my younger children having some of the teachers my oldest daughter had but they've all left! I like the fact that it's very multicultural and accepting of all students. Need to enhance music, art, specialty programs. My 3rd grader this year had NO homework. I don't agree with that!
Porter checks off all of the boxes that the state likes to see, but ignores the human relationship aspect that a school needs to thrive. If you want your child to be an excellent test-taker, submit yourself to the painstaking process of applying. If you want your child to be well-rounded and able to cope with the additionally challenges that high school, college, and life bring... you may want to explore other options.
If you are a teacher applying to work at this school, take warning. You will have excellent students to work with, and families that are willing to throw you support, but this is overshadowed by the strain put on you by administration. Between 8-12 teachers have quit every year for the past several years. It's alarming that PWCS has not looked into this issue - very clearly shows how much they put test score value over the well-being and mental health of their employees.
This school is good on paper. My children are very good at taking tests, and they are academically successful, but the atmosphere at Porter borders on clinical. I have heard from several staff members that the principal is difficult to work for, and having had our first issues requiring her attention (in 6 years) I find that to be true as a parent as well. Porter checks all of the boxes, but is far from a nurturing environment. The good thing with a single, powerful leader is that they can get results, but the only results that seem to matter are the test score the kids get. The format for this school has amazing potential, but that's where it ends.
I have been affiliated with this school for 6 years now and it has been a great place for my child who started in 1st grade and is currently in 6th grade (middle school). I have a child that's in 3rd grade at this school too and it has been an ongoing success academically and socially. No, school is perfect, but Mary G. Porter comes pretty close to perfection as far as my children academic needs are concerned. I'm confident that the quality of education they are receiving will promote future success in every avenue of their chosen profession. It is a school of choice and I'm grateful they have the opportunity to attend this school.